How many Villa fans does it take to do a pre-match Q&A? Well here at This Northern Soul, we’re just like Sonny and Cher, so it takes two. David and Damian from Villa sites ‘My Old Man Said’ and ‘The Villa Blog’ respectively propped round to give us their views on their billionaire, balti pies and belligerent French wingers.
Wigan Athletic, what do you really think of us?
David– Well, if the Great Houdini supported a team it would be you guys. Resilience seems to be Wigan’s main quality. While I’d prefer to have more classic teams like Nottingham Forest or Leeds in the top tier, I think Wigan’s presence is a good antidote to the commercially-driven modern game. The fact that a club like Wigan can arrive, then stay and be very competitive in the division, can only be good news. I’ve also been impressed by the loyalty shown by Martinez to Wigan and his chairman, this too has bucked the trend of the mercenary modern game. I think Wigan’s chairman and manager relationship is very much the DNA of the team’s success, and if one went, Wigan might be a struggle.
Damian – You’re the new Liverpool.
Paul Lambert, what do you really think of him? Anyone has to be better than Alex McLeish, surely?
David – Well, McLeish was never going to work. You don’t employ a manager at Villa, who’s just relegated his last club (actually twice in three seasons). Then, the fact McLeish was a Blues man, made the board’s decision a foolish gamble. Most fans were amazed that the appointment was even contemplated at all. In the end, the Villa fans were proved right.
Lambert is still learning his trade, but he is a man with a plan, and he’s sticking with it. Most Villa fans are behind him and his very young team. Witness the last ten minutes against Spurs, when the Holte End fans, knowing we were been hammered (and also smashed 8-0 in the game before against Chelsea), sung his name loudly until the game’s end.
Lambert is a proper football man and goes about his business in the right way and has little time or interest for the media side of the game. He’ll need influential and experienced midfield reinforcements in January to help steady the team. As long as Villa have a decent January on-and-off the pitch, all should be fine at the club. Consolidation this season is the key in Lambert’s drastic rebuilding process.
Damian– Anyone is better than McLeish but Lambert is still to prove himself. Many managers can take a club up from the Championship and many also stay for a season, it’s the second that you really see what a manager
is worth. We didn’t wait to see so we’re finding out now. He needs time, but after the last two results and because of where we find ourselves at the moment, that might not be something he can take for granted.
There must have been a buzz going around a few years ago with a billionaire in the boardroom and O’Neill in the hot seat, now you’re getting turned down by our manager and looking like you’re heading towards the second relegation battle on the bounce. Has something gone wrong at Villa or is this a necessary step backwards to move forward again?
David– The original Villa plan when billionaire Randy Lerner came to Villa Park was very one dimensional. It was simply focused at allowing Martin O’Neil to splash the cash in an attempt to qualify for the Champion’s League. He paid over-the-odds for players in the Autumn of their careers, and while he received respectability in terms of results, O’Neil came up short. Considering how drastically the club then cut back on their spending and ambition, it is amazing that the club didn’t actually plan for O’Neil’s failure. Indeed, it’s the question that still goes unanswered – why did they spend haphazardly leaving a wage bill that was around 90% of all the club’s outgoings, allowing very little financial room for manoeuvre to build a long-term strategy for the team.
Damian– Our owner was only ever here for what he could get out of the club – a few of us knew and accepted that from day one, but there was hope, after shelling out all the money that something good could happen, but it turned out it wasn’t enough money and we failed. O’Neill came close but his football was very retro and he never had the extra cash he needed and when the bigger clubs turned up looking for some additional players, we had showed them the way and our owner was happy to sell.
My thinking is that we’re saving and not spending right now to take one more assault in a season or two – you can call that blind optimism if you want, but it is the only thing I have to hold on to.
Can we have N’Zogbia back now please? and you can throw Darren Bent in too if you don’t want him. What’s going on there?
David – Offer Villa £4 million (less than half you got from us) for N’Zogbia and we’d bite your hand off. He’s not a 90 minute man. He fell out with McLeish and would argue with his manager during games, when asked to track back and defend. He plays with his head down and runs up blind alleys. Personally, Villa should have never have brought him for that money, especially as he was prone to sulk. He’s ok as an impact sub, but I expect him to be shipped out in January. He’s like Stephen Ireland; if they both played to their full potential, then Villa would be a very different proposition as a team.
I’m fed up of Bent situation. There’s all kind of rumours that Lambert has stamped down on him after Bent was a naughty boy behind-the-scenes with other player’s ladies. This is trivial though. At the moment Bent doesn’t suit the formation Villa have been playing with one player up top. Benteke can be immense as a lone front man, but if Villa had stronger midfielders to support a front two, then Bent should be playing off Benteke as a partnership. Bent’s value though would have dropped like a sack of spuds due to his injury-prone nature and lack of form. Give Villa £10 million and you could probably snap up both N’Zogbia and Bent!
Damian– N’Zogbia was doomed from the day we signed him and I’m not really sure why we did, so yes, have him back tomorrow, no problem. As for Bent, I think there has been a falling out here. He is clearly our best striker at the club yet the manager was determined not to play him. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like Benteke, but he is no Darren Bent. Feed Bent with chances and he will score – his record speaks for itself.
How do you reckon tomorrow’s game will pan out?
David– Well, you’ve chosen the perfect time to play Villa, with the team hammered out of sight twice in the past couple of games. Currently, the team only has one fit centreback and one fit striker, and most of the team’s experienced heads are injured. I haven’t been keeping tabs on your midfield, but if they get an ear
ly foothold in the game, you could go away from Villa Park with a point/s. Indeed, I think it will be a low-scoring draw. A Villa win would be huge in terms of separating the team from the relegation group. To lose would be more damaging than Villa’s previous two heavy defeats.
Damian– We need to win, no other result will be good enough, but I somehow cant see it happening, so I’ll predict a draw.
The midlands will always be the home of the chicken balti pie for me, do you partake and if so, what is your favoured flavour and how do you go about eating it?
David – To this day, I haven’t had a chicken Balti pie, although I do love a good Balti. They sell them at Villa Park, although I tend to avoid any stadium food at Villa Park, simply because it’s c**p and expensive. Better value is to be found down the road from the Holte End, where you can get a ‘Match Day Special’ – fish chips and curry sauce – for under a fiver. A fine reward for a long drive to the stadium and a good lining for a few match day beers.
Damian – I’m a pint and bag of scratchings man.
I’m sure you’ll all join me in thanking David and Damian for taking time out at this busy time of the year to answer our daft questions. Both their sites follow the “by the fans, for the fans” mantra that we try to push here at TNS concentrating on views, rather than news. You can find them on the web at http://www.myoldmansaid.com/ and http://www.thevillablog.co.uk/ and on twitter at @oldmansaid and@AVFCBlog
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